7 Critical Success Factors for Effective Leadership

When we aggregate everyone’s independent views, the truth emerges!

That’s the proven & repeatable result a university professor recently illustrated through an exercise based on the “wisdom of crowds”. The key takeaway is how infrequently (if at all) executives draw upon the knowledge, opinions and expertise of a broad group of people to make better decisions.

Whilst reading the Keyhubs post “Democracy in the workplace” this weekend, I was inspired to contribute my own perspective.

Just this past March I witnessed the results of a similar experiment, when toward the end of a 90 day Leadership Development assignment I convinced an executive team to include their middle management within their quarterly strategic planning meeting. The critical factors that I’m about to share work in compliment with each other. On their own, they are only single contributing forces.

1. Time Management

You can’t “manage time”.. for time will pass no matter what you do. What you can do is manage energy & activity. You can either choose to utilize the limited time you have in the most effective manner through energy & activity management, or you can allow time to pass-by while you stare at yet another to-do list that hasn’t been completed.

2. Effective Communications

The secret to effective communication is 80% listening & 20% talking. Continuing on from that 80/20 rule,  if 80% of our talking time is focused on posing questions around logic & expected results, I guarantee you will become the most effective communicator you know.

3. Delegation

The secret behind effective delegation isn’t “telling some what to do”.. it’s explaining the logic (thought process and philosophy) behind what needs to be done & why. The next time you have an issue you feel can be delegated, (1)gather everybody around, (2)answer the question / solve the issue and explain the philosophy, (3)make sure everyone understands the thought process, (4)ask one person to write / update a manual if appropriate or create / document a process, and finally (5)let them know they can decide this without you next time.

When your team is running “the business”, you are free to actually improve the business!

4. Motivation

When employees find meaning in their lives & work, this is when they are their most motivated. In order to help employee motivation, a leader must “inspire” his team. People want to be led, not managed.  Instead, leaders must manage their actions and lead by example. Follow the steps above & make sure you have time for your people, be purposeful & effective in your communications, delegate & empower your team by allowing them to understand the logic of how decisions are suppose to be made. Bottom line, the role of leadership is to add value to other people and the true measure of leadership is influence, thus a great leader must have the ability to change the attitude or behavior of others.

5. Goal Settings & Periodic Reviews

People only stay motivated when they understand why they do what they do, how what they do contributes to the success of the company they work for, and they can measure progress toward that end. This is what “Employees finding meaning in their work” is all about. Be transparent and set SMARTER goals, followed by frequent & appropriate pulse-checks that will allow for the agile adjustments necessary to deliver your expected results.

6. Recruitment & Interviewing

You won’t be able to do any of the above if you haven’t built the right team to support you! The most effective recruitment & on-boarding process starts with TopGrading, a proven process based on bullet proof reference checks & expected results scorecards.

7. Customer Centric

This is your final horizon! You’ve mastered all of the above so that you can more effectively speak with, think about, and act on behalf of your customers.

Democracy is not anarchy. A “flat-structure” doesn’t diminish the need for strong leadership. In order for an organization to be effective, someone still needs to make decisions and ensure that the expected results appear by leveraging “the wisdom of your crowd”.

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